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Archive for December, 2010


Friday, December 31, 2010

Aloha kākou!

It’s New Year’s Eve! So it’s only fitting to have a New Year’s Eve-related question, right?

According to the Hawaiian dictionary, what’s the Hawaiian word for YEAR??

  • Please submit your answer as a reply to this blog post.
  • All correct answers will be eligible to win a special email message from me.
  • One winner will be randomly chosen at 11:59pm HST.

WillYOUbe this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Aloha Poʻalima! Happy Aloha Friday!

**Crooner Update: You all are so SMART! Right on! The Hawaiian word for YEAR is MAKAHIKI!

And this week’s winner, chosen randomly thanks to, is… (Drum roll, please…) NAOMI! Congrats, Naomi! You’re this week’s ALOHA FRIDAY TRIVIA CHALLENGE SUPERSTAR!

A giant MAHALO to you all for taking a moment out of your busy Aloha Friday (& New Year’s Eve!) to play. You guys rock!

Hope you all have a great weekend.


A hui hou…



A Renewed Commitment to the Hawaiian Language

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I will be a more dedicated student of the Hawaiian language.

Here’s the scoop:

With 2010 drawing to a close, it seems everyone I know is talking about their New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve heard more people than I can count tell me that they are going to be more committed to their physical health–watching their diet, joining a gym, etc. I have really tried to avoid conversations about what I wanted to do in 2011.

The truth is: I hate New Year’s Resolutions.


Because most of the time we start out strong and then the enthusiasm fades. And then we let them go. It’s an easy opportunity to set myself up for failure. And, truth be told, that’s usually how I feel about mid-February when my “GO GET ‘EM” attitude has given up.


With everyone so focused on it and talking about it, I couldn’t help but think about what I would want to change in 2011.

And the answer that continued to come up is that I want to be stronger in my Hawaiian language skills.

We are so lucky to have Kumu Manuwai Peters here in NYC at the moment. (You can read an article about him from the New York Times by clicking HERE) He’s here in the Big Apple as a graduate student of Columbia University getting another Master’s degree and he’s generously offered Hawaiian language classes to those of us who are interested. I’ve been especially blessed to work as his kōkua–his assistant–for these classes.

We met a while ago when he was still teaching on Molokai and let me tell you: he’s incredibly gifted as both a teacher and as a Hawaiian speaker. He studied Hawaiian as a college student–it wasn’t his first language. That helps him to understand the challenges that students like me face–those of us coming to Hawaiian as adults. He’s a true “man of letters”, understanding both the more modern “university-style” Hawaiian that’s being taught today as well as the poetic “old-school-style” Hawaiian that was spoken by the Hawaiian elders. It’s a joy to learn the HOWs and WHYs of the language and phrases from him. He’s a shining example of how the language is LIVING and THRIVING today.

And he is scheduled to complete his studies at Columbia University this year.

Auē! That means we could lose him as a resident teacher in NYC soon!


The last time I was back on Molokai, I had a long talk with Pops about what I really needed to concentrate on when it came to my Hawaiian studies. Pops isn’t a man who likes to give too many answers. He’s great at helping the student find the answer himself. While we talked, I thought about all of the things I needed to understand better.

And every one of them circled back to one thing.

Finally I said, “That’s it, Pops. I know what I need more than anything else–I need to have a deep understanding of the Hawaiian language. That’s where all of the answers lie. That’s the key to understanding all things Hawaiian.”

His eyes grew moist and he smiled at me and nodded.

That was all the confirmation I needed.

The language continued to be a HUGE part of the rest of my time there in November. We spoke it exclusively some days. (Or HE spoke it exclusively, I should say! On those days that meant that I needed to listen more and talk less!)

With Kumu Manuwai here for a little while longer and with the encouragement of Pops, I’m renewing my commitment to the Hawaiian language. It will be the key to unlocking the mysteries.

The more I study, the more I fall in love with it. And from a singer’s point of view, it’s made all the difference in the world. When I first fell in love with Hawaiian music, I was adept at “parroting” the sounds I’d heard on recordings. As I began my language studies, I learned the meanings of the words. Now, as my studies grow deeper, I’m beginning to understand the THOUGHTS BEHIND THE WORDS. It’s truly a multi-layered discipline. And instead of growing tired, I’m inspired to GROW more and more every day.

We’re on a short hiatus here in NYC with the language classes at the moment–a “winter break” of sorts. So it’s time for me to dig out the texts, again, and figure out where I still have pukas (holes) in my understanding. It’s time for me to make sure I have the basic building blocks in place so that I can grow in the language.

So I guess I’m joining the masses and declaring my New Year’s Resolution. I’m also joining a movement to keep a language alive and thriving.

What are YOUR New Year’s Resolutions?


The Crooner’s Weekly “TOP 3″ (12.29.10)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Aloha kākou!

I always have my iPod with me. It’s my personal jukebox.

Living in New York City, I spend a lot of time traveling underground via subway–and those rides can be long and boring! But having a collection of great music with me at all times keeps me from losing my mind. I can escape to a tropical isle with the push of a button. Portable paradise!

Here are the TOP 3 SONGS from my iPod this week:

1. Hilo Hula (Holunape’s recording on the album He ʻOlu)

If you’ve read some of my other “TOP 3″ lists, you’ll know that I’m a HUGE FAN of the group Holunape. I love their tight harmonies. I love their style. They’re a fantastic group–one of the greatest performing today.

This song is a classic–and they do it so well. Exercising restraint, with nothing overly flashy in their delivery, they invoke the spirit of the place and the spirit of the hula. Gotta love that.

The song type is also one of my favorites–a song that celebrates a place or an area. In this case, it celebrates Hilo and its surrounding areas on the “Big Island” of Hawaiʻi. It’s a great way to learn about a place. (Music makes everything taste better!)

2. Ke ʻAla O Ka Rose (Willie K.’s recording on the album Awhilima: Reflections)

A paniolo (cowboy) song! In my research, I’ve read it was composed by a young man (only 17 years old!) named Danny Kaʻopio on the island of Niʻihau–he was courting a woman named Loke, which is the Hawaiian word for “rose.” Hence the title, Ke ʻAla O Ka Rose, The Fragrance of the Rose.

I love Willie K.’s delivery of it–his kāhea or call to the musicians (and maybe dancers as well?) gives it a casual, kanikapila-style feel to it. Like maybe he’s singing it a backyard lūʻau. And his infectious laugh that rings out about halfway through the song never fails to make me smile.

This is a classic song–and his delivery is fantastic!

3. The Music of Hawaii (Melveen Leed’s recording on the album Melveen’s Hawaiian Country Hits)

Hawaiian country music delivered by Hawaiʻi’s country queen!

This feel-good, uptempo song talks about some of the composer’s favorite things about Hawaiʻi. And it sounds like the music that dominated the mainland’s country music scene in the late 1960s and 1970s. If you weren’t paying attention to the lyrics, you’d think it was a song written in Nashville for a Nashville singer. (However, if you missed the lyrics, you’d miss its distinctive Hawaiian message–and that would be such a shame!)

Aunty Melveen never fails to delight me with her music. This song is one that I need to learn to sing and strum on the ʻukulele!

What are YOU listening to? Drop me a line and let me know!!


Learning to Love the Process

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I’ve realized that I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to creating anything–writing, music, even cooking!

(Read more about that HERE.)

And I’d love to tell you that since I’ve had that realization/mini-epiphany, I’ve managed to relax into the “messiness” of creating something new. I’d love to tell you that I no longer resist the process. That I’ve conquered my self-destructive habit of stopping something before I’ve even started.


The truth is: I’ve got a long way to go!


Instead of looking exclusively at the RESULTS, I’ve become better at noticing other people’s process–and it’s really cool!

I had the great pleasure of hanging out with my young niece and nephew this past week while I was visiting family in Pittsburgh. And you know what I learned?


For example: I watched my niece drawing a picture. She was deep in concentration. Really paying attention to every detail. She was totally engaged in what she was doing for a full 15 minutes–which is long time considering most folks can’t sit still for 15 minutes without a commercial break! And as soon as the piece was “done” she stopped. I watched how she casually placed this piece of art beside her and began to work on something new.

She didn’t flinch when her younger brother came over to the table with a full glass of some kind of kid-friendly beverage and sat down beside her. (If you knew my nephew, you’d be familiar with the phrase, “Please hold that cup with BOTH hands!” There’s reason wekeep lots of towels ready!)

And… when she was called away to help get ready for dinner, she just took the completed drawings and put them away. She didn’t treat them like they were religious items. She didn’t file them away for a later time.

It wasn’t about the FINISHED drawing. It was about the PROCESS OF CREATING IT.

(In fact, I think she might have just thrown them away–can you believe it?!)

It was all about the journey and NOT about the destination.

I loved it.

Kids are valuable teachers, for sure!

Am I ready to just dive in and embrace the messy (and wonderful?) world of process? Well…

I’m getting braver.

Baby steps. Baby steps.


A Long Day of Travel

Monday, December 27, 2010

A view from the car on the way home to NYC.

Aloha gang!

I’m writing this to you from my cozy little apartment in a very snowy NYC.

And I’m so happy to be home!

My partner-in-crime and I (& Thomas the Cat!)had a great holiday in Pittsburgh with the family. Our trip to Pennsylvania was so easy. The drive was smooth and uneventful. We made it in record time.

And today–well–that was another story.

I’m sure someday we’ll look back on the events of the day and laugh. It really was a comedy of errors in the truest sense. We started the day with a mishap at a gas station and ended the day a mere 12 hours later with a mishap at the car rental location.

After that, we started to laugh. (Laughter is good medicine!)

The ridiculousness continued on the subway ride home. (Yes…a blizzard affects even the SUBWAYS in New York City!) So while we crawled at a snail’s pace, we talked about the days events.

My favorite part of the day was listening to AWESOME MUSIC while we made our way along what felt like endless miles of road.

We both love music–we sang along to some of it and just listened to others. Songs reminded us of times in the past when we’d first heard them. Music became a catalyst for conversations. It was the best part of the day!

I know that our long day was NOTHING compared to what some of our friends are experiencing at the airports and all of the flight cancellation fiascos that the weather has brought. I hope they all have access to some good tunes! It really helped.

As always, I believe music is a powerful medium.

It’s medicine for me. It certainly helps me feel better!

And I’m so thankful to home. Safe and sound.

Sending you all warm Aloha.

A hui hou…




Friday, December 24, 2010

Aloha kākou!

Here’s this week’s question:

In 1816, Georg Anton Scheffer began supervising the the construction of Fort Elizabeth on what island??

Hint: The fort was named for Elizabeth, the wife of the Russian emperor, Alexander I.

  • Please submit your answer as a reply to this blog post.
  • All correct answers will be eligible to win a special email message from me.
  • One winner will be randomly chosen at 11:59pm HST.

WillYOUbe this week’s lucky winner?

Good Luck!

Aloha Poʻalima! Happy Aloha Friday!

(and Merry Christmas Eve!)

**Crooner Update: You guys are awesome! Mahalo for playing along this week–and to think you took time out of your busy week & Christmas Eve, too!

This was a tough question. The answer is Kaua’i.

And this week’s winner, chosen randomly by the technology at at, is… (Drum roll, please…) PATRICK! Congrats, Patrick! You’re this week’s Trivia Superstar!

Hope you all have a great holiday weekend!

See you on Monday!

A hui hou…